Groundbreakers

For International Day of the Girl, TODAY is honoring 18 groundbreakers.

For International Day of the Girl, TODAY is celebrating 18 girls under 18 who are breaking down barriers, changing the world and inspiring others, despite – and because of – their young age.

  • Disability Activist & Author

    Jordan Reeves, 13

    Disability Activist & Author

    Jordan Reeves, 13

    The author and co-founder of the nonprofit Born Just Right has shown how living with a disability can lead to awesome opportunities. Her most famous invention, called Project Unicorn, is a special prosthetic (that shoots glitter!) made with the help of a 3D printer.

    She looks up to: Her mom

    Her advice to other girls: "Be confident in your personality — no matter how annoying the stares may get."

  • Tennis Superstar

    Cori "Coco" Gauff, 15

    Tennis Superstar

    Cori "Coco" Gauff, 15

    In the span of one year, the tennis superstar became the youngest player to ever qualify for Wimbledon, beat idol Venus Williams and became a household name. The sky's the limit for this all-star athlete.

    She looks up to: Venus and Serena Williams

    Her advice to other girls: "Never put a limit on your dreams. Work hard every day, set realistic goals in the short term and chip away at them day by day. I live by the motto 'dream big,' as my parents always encouraged me to do what I was passionate about."

  • Record-Breaking Climber

    Selah Schneiter, 10

    Record-Breaking Climber

    Selah Schneiter, 10

    As the youngest person to ever climb El Capitan, a 3,000-foot summit in Yosemite National Park, Selah is inspiring climbers who are twice her age.

    She looks up to: Lynn Hill and Margo Hayes, two celebrated female climbers

    Her advice to other girls: "Try to find your passion for something, try to find what you love. And just hold onto it and see where it'll take you."

  • Fashion Designer

    Kheris Rogers, 13

    Fashion Designer

    Kheris Rogers, 13

    The teen fashion designer created a line called Flexin’ In My Complexion after being bullied at school for her skin color. She then became the youngest designer to ever show at New York Fashion Week.

    She looks up to: Lupita Nyong'o

    Her advice to other girls: "Every morning you should look in the mirror and say what you love about yourself. Every single day."

  • Inventor

    Ella Casano, 13

    Inventor

    Ella Casano, 13

    After being diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease, she invented the “Medi Teddy” to cover up IVs with teddy bears and make them less scary for other kids.

    She looks up to: Carolyn Miles, founder of Save the Children

    Her advice to other girls: "If you have an idea, stick with it, and push yourself to make it into something bigger."

  • Author & Anti-Bullying Activist

    Franiya Tiffany, 9

    Author & Anti-Bullying Activist

    Franiya Tiffany, 9

    The author of two books, "Love Your Art" and "How to Become a Star Boss," Franiya is on a mission to stop bullying, aka the "hate disease."

    She looks up to: Beyonce and Skai Jackson

    Her advice to other girls: "We’re not truly free until we let ourselves be free. No one else in this world will set you free but yourself."

  • Figure Skating Champion

    Alysa Liu, 14

    Figure Skating Champion

    Alysa Liu, 14

    At 14 years old, the national champion is already being called the most exciting woman to watch in U.S. figure skating — and she's not even old enough to compete in the Olympics.

    She looks up to: Michelle Kwan

    Her advice to other girls: "Don't let comments stop you from what you can achieve. Just work on what you're trying to learn, become the best you can be and prove them wrong."

  • Swim Coach

    Sylvie Goldner, 16

    Swim Coach

    Sylvie Goldner, 16

    The high school junior and competitive swimmer started a program where teens who were never taught to swim because of socioeconomic factors have an opportunity to learn without stigma.

    She looks up to: Michelle Obama

    Her advice to other girls: "Never be afraid to be weird. Don't let anyone stop you from being who you want to be."

  • Chef & Healthy Eating Advocate

    Ivy Angst, 13

    Chef & Healthy Eating Advocate

    Ivy Angst, 13

    This cooking prodigy made it to the finals of "Masterchef Junior" this year, which is all the more impressive as a kid with achondroplasia, a bone-growth disorder that causes disproportionate dwarfism. The 13-year-old is an advocate for healthy eating, especially with her fellow preteens.

    She looks up to: Alicia Keys (especially for her fedoras!)

    Her advice to other girls: “If you have a dream and you can envision it, it’s bound to happen.”

  • Actress & Anti-Bullying Crusader

    Storm Reid, 16

    Actress & Anti-Bullying Crusader

    Storm Reid, 16

    The "Euphoria" and "A Wrinkle in Time" actress advocates for girls' education, bullying prevention and other important causes on social media.

    She looks up to: Ava DuVernay, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling

    Her advice to other girls: "You can be amazing through all of your faults and all the mistakes that you make. You can be perfectly imperfect."

  • Video Game Coders

    Girls Make Games winners, 13

    Video Game Coders

    Girls Make Games winners, 13

    Crystal Nelson, Gracie Clauson, Isadora Tiffe and Keira Munko — collectively known as Team Sarcastic Shark — won the Girls Make Games competition with an anti-bullying video game that will soon be published by professionals.

    They look up to: Laila Shabir and Ish Syed, founders of the competition

    Their advice to other girls: "Be an activist for your own beliefs and be true to yourself."

  • Climate Activist

    Jamie Margolin, 17

    Climate Activist

    Jamie Margolin, 17

    The Seattle native co-founded Zero Hour, a group of youth climate change activists that has held marches in cities across the globe. She recently testified to Congress alongside Greta Thunberg.

    She looks up to: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

    Her advice to other girls: "Stop apologizing for things you're not sorry for."

  • Native Activist & Actress

    Sovereign Bill, 15

    Native Activist & Actress

    Sovereign Bill, 15

    The voice actress plays Molly Mabray, a 10-year-old Alaskan Native, in the PBS show “Molly of Denali.” The animated series features an all-indigenous cast and characters.

    She looks up to: Her grandmother

    Her advice to other girls: ""Go out of your comfort zone sometimes — even if you fail."

  • Actress & Breakout Star

    Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, 17

    Actress & Breakout Star

    Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, 17

    The actress, who is Tamil-Canadian, landed a dream role of starring in Mindy Kaling’s new coming-of-age TV show after applying for the open casting call. It's her first professional acting job!

    She looks up to: Mindy Kaling and Emma Watson

    Her advice to other girls: "If you don’t find what you’re looking for in the media or the world in general, you should be out there, and take up that space. Go be that change."

  • Literacy & Education Advocate

    Havana Chapman-Edwards, 8

    Literacy & Education Advocate

    Havana Chapman-Edwards, 8

    The elementary schooler, who first made headlines as the only student at her school to join the national school walkout in protest of gun violence in the U.S., has dedicated herself to donating books with black female protagonists to encourage literacy and representation.

    She looks up to: Michelle Obama and Malala Yousafzai

    Her advice to other girls: "Even if you’re tiny, your voice is not."

  • 'Little Miss Flint'

    Mari Copeny, 11

    'Little Miss Flint'

    Mari Copeny, 11

    Also known as “Little Miss Flint,” Copeny is an advocate for clean water in her community. It started when she was 8 years old and wrote such a convincing letter to President Obama that he came to visit.

    She looks up to: Yara Shahidi

    Her advice to other girls: "You can change the world right now. You don’t have to wait until you grow up."

  • Actress & LGBTQ Advocate

    Josie Totah, 18

    Actress & LGBTQ Advocate

    Josie Totah, 18

    The actress, who has appeared on shows like “Glee” and Mindy Kaling’s “Champions,” has recently come out as transgender and is using her platform to help other teens embrace their identities.

    She looks up to: Lady Gaga

    Her advice to other girls: "Know that your integrity is worth so much more than a job or a paycheck."

  • YouTube Game Changer

    Emma Chamberlain, 18

    YouTube Game Changer

    Emma Chamberlain, 18

    Emma is redefining what it means to be a social media superstar with her down-to-earth YouTube videos with a hilarious editing style. She proves that being yourself can often be the most refreshing thing, and her 8.5 million followers agree.

    She looks up to: "Almost all the women I’ve met throughout my life have inspired me in one way or another."

    Her advice to other girls: "Make sure you are doing things for YOU and being firm in your beliefs. Once you are in tune with that, everything becomes so much clearer."